Halong Bay has been known for its beautiful and poetic scenes for a long time. However, it also attracts visitors with its delicious specialties. One of them is the traditional grilled chopped squid many people seek for when coming to this UNESCO heritage site.
Grilled chopped squid is one of the oldest foods in Quang Ninh province originated in 1946 by Tai Le – a cook of a foreign restaurant in the France domination. From that year to now, the tasty grilled chopped squid has been famous in the community of this area, they have made this food more famous to the visitors and to many other countries in the world.
Making grilled chopped squid
Grilled chopped squid in Halong is specially delicious in comparison with other areas because it has the typical features no place has. This come from the main ingredient of the food – a kind of bigfin reef squid living in Halong sea. The people of this land say that only the squids of this area have the delicious and tough meat, those from other areas cannot has the taste like that. Perhaps this reason has made the grilled chopped squid of Halong last so long and famous.
To make this delicious and aromatic squid, the cooks must choose the ingredients carefully. The squids must be alive, the small dots on their body still move, their meat is thick, livers are yellow, eyes are black. This process of choosing is not easy; to have these skills, the cooks must have much experience of cooking. The more experience they have, the better quality the food gets.
After being chosen, the fresh squids will be put into a big tank of water to wash and remove the dirty parts. Squids are sliced (each piece is 3-5 cm long) and then put into the mortar to chop by hands. At first sight, you can feel that this work is not so difficult. However, only the visitors who have experienced once can see how hard this work is. The chopped squids begin to stick together and become a glutinous and condensed mixture which makes the work so hard, only the skilled workers can completely do this stage.
The mixture is continued to mix with many spices with the special formula of the cooks, and then this mixture is kneaded into many pieces which will be put into the oil pans to fry after that. Each piece will be well out, then turn its color to yellow making visitors notice on. The complete pieces have the aroma of squids and beautiful yellow color.
Standing in front of a stall full of yellow grilled chopped squid, visitors cannot resist the attraction of the squid pieces. Tasting a piece which is still hot, you can feel the whole aroma of this delicious food of Quang Ninh. Each piece of grilled chopped squid with the delicious and tough taste and moreish spices will rouse all senses of visitors.
This food is best when it is still hot, the visitors usually buy and eat this dish right in the producing places, and then buy more to bring home to friends and family. People here usually eat it with white sticky rice and steamed rolls with the delicious sauce.
Because it is made by hands, the grilled chopped squid is higher than other kinds, the quality and aroma of this food is also much higher than others. In Quang Ninh province, there are also other grinded squid, but it is not considered as a specialty of this area. Nowadays, there are many places selling this grilled chopped squid, visitors can easily buy this food in markets and see by their own eyes the process here.
If you have the chance to visit Halong Bay, beside the beautiful scenes here, you should not miss this traditional special food. There is no other great thing than a tour full of color and taste. Surely, your Halong trip cannot be perfect if you do not taste grilled chopped squid. You should visit Halong once to enjoy yourself this famous food and buy for your friends and family so that they can try it at home.